We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Palumbo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The element of risk-taking separates how individuals choose to live their lives. We cannot exist without taking risks. When a baby stands up and takes their first ever few steps, they are risking a fall which to the baby can feel like a matter of life and death. I believe it is this fear that begins to subdue the continuation of heavy risk taking in our lives. We fall, we fail, we falter. It’s a vicious cycle that starts to mold us, and most people live under the guise of fear for their entire lives. They fail to live the lives that they could have lived had they just taken a risk.
Some of us have the ability to overcome the fear that is instilled in us. There is a brazenness that separates this minority of the population who live under a set of different rules. Of course, all people must battle their fears to a certain level, but there is a percentage of the population who markedly live a life of high risk taking. These are the people who jump out of planes, submerge themselves deep under the ocean, travel to unknown places, climb mountains, etc.. I consider myself one of these extreme risk-takers. I have traversed untouched terrain in the Amazon rainforest, travelled through the wild deserts of Namibia, swam in unknown waters, hiked volcanos, entered into the profession of acting, been on stage in front of hundreds, been in front of a camera and crew, been vulnerable, and countless other experiences as well and some too private to list.
I don’t wear this as a badge nor do I believe that risk-takers have a greater or more exciting life than non-risk-takers, but I do know that for me personally, my life is full and I am lucky to have had the experiences that I have had. I can draw from these experiences and use them in my craft and as a part of my growth. Every time I go on a new adventure I grow exponentially from it.
A person truly grows after they are knocked down and then risk getting back up again. We need risk for the reward. I needed to risk having no money and working night shifts for many years in order to reap the rewards that I have today. It is not for everyone, but it has allowed me a life beyond my wildest dreams….so far. There will be much more fear, more vicissitudes, and more risks to take. There will always be uncertainty, but my faith in a Power greater than myself will always allow me to courageously move forward toward the life that God intends for me.
Risk being seen, being heard, being stupid, being dumb, being clumsy, being weird, being poor, being weak, being incorrect, and being judged, for the joke is on the ones who judge. Your heart is free. With faith, have the courage to follow it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an actor born and bred. I picked up my parent’s video camera when I was five years old and started to make movies. Movies that influenced me when I was a kid were Jurassic Park, The Lion King, Aladdin, The Godfather, Scarface, Apocalypse Now, and countless others. When they first enter the park and they see the first dinosaur, the Brachiosaurus, for the first time, this is why I’m an actor today. My Uncle Mark was also an actor in Hollywood back in the 80’s. He was making his way up the ranks quickly, but unfortunately he was leaving set one day as passenger in a car that was hit by a truck. He was in a coma for seven years and passed away. His legacy has also inspired me.
I was always destined to be an actor, but the path that was laid before me took me elsewhere. It wasn’t until I was 26 years old that I took the risk and dove in head first to the craft. I’ll never go back to civilian life. Growing up I excelled in school and was an amazing athlete. Everything came easy to me. I thought acting would be the easiest thing because it looks so easy and people said I have THAT personality. The truth is that acting is the hardest thing I have done in my entire life and I have seen people pull their hair out, kill themselves, hurt themselves, seize, and other terrible things because of the craft. Acting deserves the respect that I hope people give it. It is a daily practice, not a “memorize some lines when I get an audition” thing. If this is what you do, and I mean this with all respect and love, get out of the profession. It is not for you. This craft requires a person to rip their soul out, wear it as a cape, use their heart as a flashlight, and fly into the depths of the unconscious world. It sounds metaphysical but it is true.
My story is one of Succisa Virescit, which means “when cut down, one will grow stronger”. Without getting too personal I can say that I have indeed been knocked down over and over by life, as most of us have. To get back up is the courage that is needed to be an actor. We must be vulnerable in front of a camera crew or in front of thousands of people all looking for our every move and mistakes, all looking to formulate a judgement.
I have learned to work harder than I ever have. I am an artist through and through. I need opera, film scores, great filmmaking, adventure, raw untouched and untamed nature, painting, poetry, dance. I need it like I need food. Every single day I need to cry, laugh, and scream. It sounds crazy, but any true actor knows that we are insane anyway. For me, in short, this is what it means to be an actor.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ll consider my “best friend” as a woman who I am in love with. In one day, a fine fine day, we would wake up with a workout (if you catch my flow), then hike up any of the beautiful mountains nearby for a sunrise handhold and some poetry. I’m not a breakfast person, but I will take her to any place of her choosing. We would head to the beach with friends, full coolers, and music. The rest is easy; we just dance and surf at the beach to a beautiful sunset that bleeds into the cool breeze of the nighttime. We can stay there and look at the stars, we can go home and watch a movie, or we can shower up, put on our dancing shoes, and hit LA’s finest.
For a longer stay during the winter I would rent a cabin at Big Bear or any other mountain and it would be snowboarding, hot tubs, and hot chocolate for the week while watching the online film festivals. The cozy option.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my family, my mentors, my support system, the Serengeti, the deserts of Namibia, the Amazon rainforest, my ex’s, New Jersey, William Esper Studio, Karl Bury, Larry Moss, Eric Reis, Uncle Steve, and Uncle Mark.
Facebook: Matthew Palumbo